Professional Trained Naturalist/Wilderness Guides

Mark Denzer - Operations Manager 


Mark has worked in the wilderness guide industry for over 20 years and has lead trips in Missouri Ozarks, the Rocky Mountains in Idaho, Boundary Waters in Minnesota, the Appalachian Mountains of North Carolina, the swamps of Louisiana and his homeland of the Shawnee National Forest in southern Illinois. He spends his time exploring Illinois's & Missouri's rivers, their ancient history, wild-crafting, studying and practicing primitive  living skills. He has received training and worked for several outdoor wilderness programs in the country including, The Trails of Awareness Project, Wilderness Education Association , Wingate Wilderness Therapy of Utah, SUWS of Idaho, Sol-treks, Touch of Nature, Wilderness Awareness School, and Boulder Outdoor Survival School.  He has a Master’s Degree in Outdoor/ Therapeutic Recreation Management at Southern Illinois University Carbondale.  He is currently a certified Wilderness First Responder under the national school of Wilderness Medical Associates. 

Tony Gerard - Naturalist/ Biologists/ Historian 


Tony is a professor of Biology at Shawnee Community College and grew canoeing the Cache river. One of his interests is the study and preservation  of retiples and amphibians locally and globally.   Additional, he has been involved in living history since the early 1980s, with a particular  interest in the eastern frontier of the 18th and early 19th centuries. Gerard has given seminars on first person interpretation at various historic sites throughout the US and Canada, including Colonial Williamsburg, Fortress Louisburg, Fort Loudon, and Fort Toulouse. He has served as a technical advisor, casting, set dressing, and location scout for numerous History Channel productions (over 30 to date) and was a core extra in the motion picture Last of the Mohicans and the recent PBS production The War That Made America.​

Megan Benitone - Student

Megan is a graduate student of Outdoor Recreation at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale. She is a Certified Interpretive Guide and a Wilderness First Responder, and she has a bachelor’s in Education from McKendree University. Megan grew up in Illinois, but has traveled around the world. Her favorite places to travel to are Alaska and Japan, but she still believes that Southern Illinois is truly one of the most beautiful and unique places on earth. Megan loves spending time in the outdoors and learning as much as she can about the history and science of the natural world around her. When she’s not hiking or paddling, she can probably be found drawing landscapes and portraits or planning her next trip. One day, Megan would like to earn her triple crown by backpacking the Appalachian Trail, the Pacific Crest Trail, and the Continental Divide Trail—but for now, she is more than happy to keep exploring and learning about the Cache River Wetlands and Southern Illinois at large.